Onmatu- General Math Learning Article
The game which makes Math to be recreational can take different forms like: a puzzle to be solved, a game of a competitive nature, a magic trick, a paradox, a logical error or, simply, math with curious and fun features. Are these pure math or applied math? Is hard to say about this. In a sense the recreational math is a pure math which is not contaminated by utility. In another sense we can think of the recreational math as the applied math, because it satisfies the universal human need of amusement.
Maybe this need of fun is hiding even in the back of pure math. It's not a big difference between the pleasure which a beginner tries by solving an ingenious math puzzle and the happiness felt by a mathematician which solves a tough problem of science. Both of them are pure beauty, clear order and net defined, also mysterious and charming, which is on the base of every structure. This is why we don't need to be surprised that often is hard for us to make a distinction between the pure math and recreational math. Let's take for example the four color theorem which is an important problem of the topology which is not yet solved, but with many references on many recreational math books. No one will have any doubts that the flexagones of paper are extremely fun toys, but their structure will lead us in an advanced field of the group theory and we know that the most technical magazines of math published a lot of articles about them.
Creator mathematicians almost never feel shame about their interest in the recreational math subjects. Topology has its origins in the analysis made by Euler over a puzzle that concerned crossing some bridges. Leibniz consecrated a lot of time for the study over a game with the jump of the horse on chess table, which was and is a true delight and a new rejuvenation of trying your intelligence. The great German mathematician David Hilbert proved one of the most important theorems in the dissection games field. Someone that visited Albert Einstein one day said that he had a shelf full of books with games and math puzzles. The interest of these bright minds for the enigmatic math game is not hard to guess, because the creative thinking which is given to these kind of simple and commonplace subjects is of the same nature with the type of thinking which leads to the mathematical and scientific discovery. At the end we can ask ourselves: what else is math, if nothing but trying to solve puzzles? And what is science if nothing but a systematic effort for getting answers for the nature's puzzles, which are better and better?
The pedagogical value of recreational math is at present very popular. We see that is put increasingly more emphasis on it in the published magazines for math teachers and also in the school books, especially in those written in the "modern" way. These subject matters are very interesting for the pupils and students. We can see that there is a fascinating connection between math and games which lead us to the conclusion that math is not just long calculations and complex theory but also imagination and insight. Thank you